There seems to be a lot of confusion among libertarians on how to handle the issue of marriage equality from a uniquely libertarian standpoint. Some suggest that the struggle to remove government from our personal lives requires more than equal marriage rights for same sex couples – I agree with them. Others adopt the all-or-nothing approach of opposing marriage equality now in favor of abolishing state marriage altogether – I disagree with these people.
I want to point out the historical point addressed by this meme: an ideological critique to the notion of inherited power in what is supposed to be a merit-based individualist society. Having power pass from father to son was the legacy of aristocracy and monarchy … It’s impossible to be a Constitutional conservative and want to be ruled by an aristocracy.
The error in reasoning which leads people to believe that Rand must surely be like his father, is the same one which led humans to submit to hereditary transfers of power for thousands of years, and which leads people to believe that entire families of evil human beings named “Clinton” or “Bush” must be great ideas for President!! Confronting that core idea is totally fair game for libertarian activism within the context of a constitutional republic which our founders absolutely never meant to become anything like what they fought to overcome.
The fact that this escaped nearly everybody who saw the meme is just proof of how far we’ve strayed from one of the most important concepts that fueled the revolution that led to our founding. Go read the Federalist/Anti-Federalist documents if you aren’t aware of what a huge thing that was to both sides of the question – all were agreed that aristocracies were to be avoided no matter what; that power should no longer be passed as inheritance, but that it must be earned by merit.
I believe it is very clear, Rand has not earned by merit the loyalty he claims through his father, and a dialogue about that is useful not only against Rand, but against the Clintons and Bushes as well. The thing they have in common was really important to our founders … It should be important to us, too.
Our Chair appeared on the Libertarian Party's official podcast today. Listen in to the second half hour and hear about Outright's "cutting edge activism", our Spirit of '69 fundraising effort, and local efforts in Arizona to decriminalize homelessness and relegalize all drugs.
The whole "get government out of marriage" thing is a bit overblown. The government in fact does have a role in enforcing private contract. So it will continue to be called into disputes which question whether a particular relationship meets the state definition.
For example, you contract with an insurance company whose partner benefits are linked to the existence of a marriage agreement. Let's say you and your same-sex male polyamorous lovers are bound by a three-way contractual union. And then let's say your insurance decides it does not want to split the payout between your two surviving spouses, because Leviticus says wives not husbands.
The court will be asked to determine and set precedent as to whether that contract meets the standard and must be upheld ... those precedents will become a new version of the same old reflection of social norms: some relationships will meet the standard, and some won't, and this is true whether we have a state monopoly on justice or whether we have a polycentric system of NGO providers.
That catchphrase slogan makes good red meat for the libertarian base, but it's kind of meaningless in practice. We can abolish marriage licenses, but the state - or its equivalent - will never be out of marriage.